Jun 152015

The Internet of Things is a three legged stool of the consumer, enterprise and industrial applications says Vice President of GE’s software division, Bill Ruh.

“It’s about connecting machines, connecting people and driving a new kind of experience. For the consumer it’s a social experience, for the enterprise it’s a whole new way of how their IT departments running, in the industrial space it’s a revolution where we get to rethink how we operate.”

Ruh sees the IoT as being worth over 14 trillion dollars to GE over the next two decades, making it bigger than the other two legs combined.

Eliminating downtime

Most of that value comes from three areas; improved resource utilisation, operational optimisation and eliminating unscheduled downtime.

“The fact is downtime is expensive, for airline 41% of all delays and cancellations are due to mechanical errors. If we get rid of those your life gets better, my life gets better and the airline’s lives get better.”

“Zero unscheduled downtime doesn’t sound sexy but it’s one of the most profitable and sexiest topics ever.” In this Ruh agrees with Salesforce’s Peter Coffee that eliminating outages is a key part of delighting the modern customer.

Ruhe sees that the industrial sector hasn’t used IT and the internet well in the past, “RFID was going to change the world and it didn’t, we saw smartgrids were going to be the biggest thing and it didn’t achieve a lot of the hype that people saw.”

“Now the technology is aligned not just with technology for technology’s sake but to an outcome that leads to growth for an industrial sake.”

An example of the operational efficiencies that Ruh is particularly proud of is GE’s PowerUp technology that promises to improve the output of wind turbines, “it is a series of technologies used to analyse information about every wind turbine on a farm and to dynamically adjust each and every one to optimise the wind speed.”

“When you do that we’ve found we can generate up to five percent more electricity per wind farm because of software, which adds twenty-five percent more profitability.”

“In the next generation of wind turbines all this kind of software is going to be embedded in it from the design phase through to the operational phase,” Ruh says. “It’s going to change how our customers are going to operate wind turbines.”

Building digital twins

Another aspect Ruh sees with the changes is how machines and data will work together where equipment or parts are shipped with a ‘digital twin’, a software representation of the device that lets the customer test scenarios on their computers.

“I can now do ‘what if’ analysis on that machine using its data and that’s going to change how things work. That takes everything from 3D modelling, to manufacturing, to maintenance to operations.”

Building on domain knowledge

Ultimately Ruh sees GE’s strength with the Industrial Internet being the company’s domain knowledge, “this world is different and you cannot come from outside and pretend you’re going to learn it as you go.”

“The way people buy equipment is totally different, we have equipment that’s eighty years old and we still support it. That’s totally different from the software world.”

Jun 102015
now hiring happy workers

Last week in Sydney recruitment company Indeed sponsored a Future of Work summit to tease out some ideas about the what jobs will look like in the future.

While I wasn’t able to attend, being in Melbourne to deliver the Managing the Data Age presentation, I did manage to attend a lunch where Paul D’Arcy, the head of Indeed’s Hiring Lab, spoke about some of the trends we’re seeing in the workplace.

“One of the things we see is the change in the role of work over time,” says D’Arcy. “There was a period before the industrial revolution where work was where natural resources were. With the industrial revolution there was a shift to where the companies were organised.”

The interesting thing with that view is that the companies of the early industrial revolution gathered where the natural resources were easily accessed and finish products could be shipped as we saw when visiting England’s Ironbridge, one of the birthplaces of modern industry.

D’Arcy sees technology changing the idea that work goes to the companies, “where people with highly in demand skills congregate then that’s where jobs are created.”

The employment centres of the future will be the cities that attract those highly skilled workers, D’Arcy believes.

Spreading the developer love

One of the changes Indeed has seen in the workplace is how coding has now become a widespread skill with three quarters of all software developers around the world being employed by software companies. In the US it’s only 7% of coders are working for pure tech organisations.

Marketing is one field that has seen a dramatic shift says D’Arcy, “marketing has seen an enormous shift from what was predominately a creative industry to one driven by data.”

One of the constant questions confounding those of us writing and speaking about the future of business is ‘what will be the jobs of the future?’ While D’Arcy didn’t really have that answer one of the points is clear that programming and coding will be among the skills in demand over the near future.

In the longer term it’s still not clear exactly what jobs will be in demand in twenty or thirty years time, then again twenty years ago who would have guessed many of the technology jobs in demand today would have even existed.

While we’re still struggling with what roles will define the workplace it’s clear the location of the workplace is changing as well. The worker of the future will be a much more mobile creature than today and that has ramifications for the future.

May 282015
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Paul Wallbank regularly joins Tony Delroy on ABC Nightlife on to discuss how technology affects your business and life.

Along with covering the tech topics of the day listeners are welcome to call, text or message in with their thoughts and questions about technology, change and what it means to their families, work and communities.

If you missed the May program, it’s now available on our Soundcloud account.

For the May 2015 program Tony and Paul looked at some of the gadgets coming out of the Internet of Things, what your social media posts say about you and Mary Meeker’s big Internet Trends report.

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

May 272015
how business evolves as objectives and markets change

Only one in four Australian businesses are prepared for change says a report released today by telco Optus.

The Future of Business report is based upon interviews with over 500 business leaders across twelve industries and exposes a disconnect between managers’ beliefs of how ready their businesses are to confront change and the reality.

Over four hundred of the respondents felt ‘confident or highly confident’ in their organisation’s readiness for change while the survey found only 23% of these organisations are actually ‘highly ready’.

Organisations that appeared to be highly ready tended to be outward focused with almost all of them citing the desire to meet customer needs as the top trigger for transformation while less change ready businesses are primarily driven to change in order to reduce costs.

“Change ready businesses are not only prepared for, but also anticipate and predict change. Disruption is happening everywhere and businesses of every size and in every industry need to be prepared to deal with rapid technological change and shifting consumer expectations,” says John Paitaridis, Optus Business’ Managing Director.

While the Optus survey doesn’t produce any great surprises it does emphasise how the dynamics of change work, organisations that are outward focused are more likely to identify and understand change than those looking inwards.

Listening to the marketplace and society almost always beats those counting paperclips.

May 222015

Our watches will outlast the Apple watch warns Montblanc’s CEO Alexander Schmiedt in an interview with Bloomberg.

Schmeidt is basing his view on his watches’ durability, “I don’t think that customers are going to be ecstatic to throw away watches in one to two years when the technology is obsolete.”

It’s a brave call and what Schmeidt’s views risk is that standard watches may become niches items. He could be right though and Apple’s watches might prove to be toys for technologist.

The market will decide.

May 172015
cheap robots cleaning computers

Once again the question of what happens to the jobs of today in the face of technology is raised in a Quartz story by Zake Kanter looking at how driverless cars will lost the US economy millions of jobs over the next decade.

Zake isn’t alone in this, just one study predicts half the US police workforce could be put out of work as autonomous vehicles take to the road.

Worrying about today’s jobs is understandable as it’s clear the news won’t be good for many occupations. However the discussion should be about what roles are going to be needed in the future.

Looking back

Should we go back a hundred years there were a huge number of people, primarily young boys, employed in cleaning roads of horse dung. The equine industries provided work for tens of thousands of workers ranging from skilled blacksmiths and buggy makers through to those unskilled street sweepers.

Most of those people lost their jobs and their careers became redundant as the age of the motor vehicle took over.

Yet those displaced eventually founds jobs – as mechanics, panel beaters, traffic cops and gas station workers – although for many the dislocation was tough.

Automotive transformation

The motor car also stimulated a transformation in society as it made travel easier and wide scale logistics viable. Those changes allowed supermarkets, drive-in theatres and fast food chains to develop, all of which were unthinkable at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

Industries like fast food and the drive-in theatre were also driven by the demographic and social changes of the mid-Twentieth century as concepts like the teenager and the consumerist society were developed.

Demographics and economy

Those changes to demographics are important as well, the developed economies’ aging populations and shifting income patterns are going to determine the shape of society and the workforce even more so than technology.

For businesses and governments assuming the mid Twentieth Century consumerist economy is the future the next wave of change could be a difficult time. Even more so given that model of growth and employment was allowed to continue far beyond its natural life by the 1980s credit boom.

Credit, and banking, will be one of the challenging fields for the next decade as governments struggle with the consequences of guaranteeing institutions during the Global Financial Crisis along with the disruptions of higher frequency algorithmic trading, Big Data analytics and startups with new payments platforms.

Disruption everywhere

The disruptive effect on the banking industry by new technology will be repeated across sectors with startups and new business models challenging everyone from retailers to window cleaners, it’s not just the automotive industry that’s challenges.

While it’s difficult to predict exactly what the world is going to look like in 2025, it is clear that many industries and occupations will be struggling with a very changed world. The task for managers and business owners is to be aware of unexpected threats and opportunities.

Some of the opportunities are going to lie in studying statistics – essential in a world of big data – and learning the basics of software coding. Design is another area that is going to need many new workers.

For today’s workers, it’s more important than ever to be grabbing the skills required to be employed in the industries of the mid Twenty-First Century.